For the predecessors of today’s art-savvy generation, checking out the latest works in art galleries is reserved for high society. Similarly, visiting exhibits were hardly enticing for students and young professionals.
Such notions have long been gone, however, at least for Filipino sculptor and ManilaArt 2016’s returning overall curator Danny Rayos del Sol.
The main man of this year’s ManilaArt—one of the pioneering art fairs in the country—is convinced of this as he has witnessed how their audience is getting younger by the year.
“Over the past seven years, we’ve definitely seen much more audience engagement and awareness for the visual arts. And the best part of this is that it is also beginning to resound with the youth. The idea that fine art was inaccessible to younger audiences and the misconception that art is for the elite is slowly becoming a thing of the past,” Del Sol told The Manila Times.
The devoted artist detailed that when the art fair debuted in 2009, they were already over the moon to welcome 5,000 visitors. But since then, they have been overwhelmed each year with the growing numbers of ManilaArt audiences. In 2015 alone, they welcomed 15,000 people, mostly from organized school groups.
For it’s eighth installment, ManilaArt is estimating around the same figure, 20 percent of which will most likely comprise organized student groups again, and another 20 to 30 percent as first-time visitors.
Del Sol particularly lauded the younger audience’s active participation in the past ManilaArt events, which prove their geniune interest in the arts.
“Not only are school-age children becoming more familiar with local art and artists, they are also encouraged that fair-going, visiting, appreciating and even critiquing art exhibits is for everyone. Besides school groups brought in to the fair, self-organized bands of younger people now account for a substantial number of visitors too,” Del Sol imparted.
Beyond appreciation, Del Sol noted that the market for art is also changing.
“Young professionals are increasingly becoming aware of the place of art in defining not just one’s lifestyle but cultural identification. The push for Filipino art and artists, especially contemporary ones that are seen to define our generation, are stronger than ever.”
In effect, Del Sol said that more people, especially the young generation, enjoy art not just on their walls and hallways, but on their apparel, bags, and accessories, resulting to a more vibrant local art market with the proliferation of fairs, auctions and various art-related activities.
As such, this clamor for art and the renewed and wide ranging support for the Filipino artist and his work are fitting for this year’s ManilaArt themes, “Ushering in a New Golden Age of Filipino Art.”
“The theme ‘Ushering in a New Golden Age of Filipino Art’ only seeks to state a trend that has started to manifest for about a decade now. The achievements and prominence of Filipino artists on the world stage, as well as the increasing vibrance of the local scene with so many more promising talent in numbers that have surged over the past few years, signals this golden age of what we can now proudly distinguish as Filipino art,” Del Sol expounded.
“Part of this golden age is the increasing public awareness and support by our government and institutions that help cascade the benefits to the public in the form of increased art literacy and education,” he added.
Besides his certainty that ManilaArt will reach its full fruition with this very positive development in art appreciation, the sculptor has been able to devote time to in designing the festival feature, “The Lounge.”
In line with the fair’s theme, Del Sol depicts Filipino faith in diffe-rent forms, different times, and in different places with totem poles and ostrich eggs. Collectively, the display brings together interpretations of pagan belief, mysticism, animism and Christianity.
“The Lounge invites you to be lost in the jungle of different beliefs, only to find yourself at the heart of the jungle or at the end of your journey, is the Christian Faith as represented in Retablo de la Divina Misericordia. We are constantly reminded of our belief and religious art as a venue for our minds to be with ourselves while we do our quest for meaning in creating our own human history and life,” he ended.
ManilaArt opens today at SMX Convention in SM Aura.